Who Shall Raise the Children? Vera Black and the Rights of Polygamous Utah Parents
Utah Historical Quarterly
In 1953, Arizona and Utah law enforcement conducted a raid on the border polygamous community of Short Creek. Arizona instituted criminal proceedings against the polygamists that were highly publicized. Utah's involvement was much more limited, but it lead to a 1955 Utah Supreme Court decision which was "one of the harshest, most controversial decisions in that court's history." It concerned the eight children of polygamous wife Vera Johnson Black and her husband Leonard Black. In order to prevent the state from initiating adoption proceedings to place the children in permanent homes away from their natural parents, Vera Black signed a pledge renouncing her religious beliefs. In fact, the state permitted them to return to their polygamous style of family life in Short Creek.